Can Those Receiving Social Security Disability Try To Go Back to Work Without Losing All Benefits?

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For many disabled workers, it has taken years to prove to Social Security that they have a condition that prevents them from working a full-time job. During that time, they and their families have lived through significant financial hardships, losing their homes, draining all retirement savings to meet basic needs, and often experiencing secondary issues such as divorce and bankruptcy.

Then, finally, the appeals process reaches a conclusion, the case is won, and monthly disability begin providing a stream of income to pay monthly bills. While many disabilities are permanent in nature with no hope of returning to gainful employment, for others there may be sustained improvement allowing for at least attempts to return to work. This could possibly result in a successful return to work. But, what happens if it’s unsuccessful? Can those receiving Social Security disability attempt to go back to work without risking a complete and immediate loss of those benefits that took so long to get started?

If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits and want to try to return to work, there is a solution. Social Security’s Ticket to Work program offers work incentives through special rules that give you an opportunity to attempt a job to see if you are able to do it without immediately losing your benefits. And, this applies to both Title II disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The work incentives of the program include the ability to keep receiving your monthly disability benefits for a period of time and continued Medicare and Medicaid coverage while you attempt to return to work. If you cannot continue to work because of your medical condition, your benefits can continue or start again, and you may not even have to file a new application. There is also help with education, training and rehabilitation to prepare you for a different type of work, perhaps one that is less physically demanding. There may even be assistance in your area with job referrals.

The rules for Social Security disability and SSI are different. However, Social Security has made it easy to understand how to participate in the Ticket to Work program. A publication known the Red Book (Publication No. 64-030) – A Guide to Work Incentives is available online at or at your local Social Security office.

(For child SSI beneficiaries, there is also a new part to the Program that focuses on the importance of supporting youth in their efforts to navigate the path toward employment in their adult life if possible. The Red Book 2016 publication includes resources to assist in this transition and help parents and young adults locate national and community supports and resources.)

Whether you are receiving Social Security disability or SSI benefits, it is important to let the Social Security Administration know promptly when you start or stop working, or if any other change occurs that could affect your benefits. You will not undergo medical examinations while you are using the Ticket to Work Program and making timely progress in your return to work plan. If you are interested in more information about the types of Ticket to Work resources available in your area, visit the website at

If you are having problems with your Social Security disability application, call the attorneys at Syfrett, Dykes & Furr at (850) 795-4979.


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